“I feel like I am drowning but everybody around me is breathing.”
This is what I was told by Esmeralda, a dreamer who grew up in Arizona, and in 2010 was detained at a checkpoint, coerced to sign her voluntary departure, and was deported to Mexico, where she was told her high-school diploma from the U.S. was not valid. Esmeralda’s story is one of the 2 million people deported by U.S. Immigration authorities during the Obama administration–the largest number of deportations in the history of the U.S.
In March 2014, I traveled to the border city of Mexicali, where thousands of people are deported every month. Last year alone, it is estimated that 113,539 people were deported to Mexicali, a city with a population of 700,000. There, in the City of the Deportee, I visited the Hotel of the Migrant, a place that have assisted 200,000 deportees since 2010. The Hotel of the Migrant is a former abandoned Hotel that now serves as the only city shelter open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Managed by a non-profit organization, the hotel is located just a few blocks from the Calexico Port of Entry. Usually, deportees are dropped off in the middle of the night in poor conditions.